Fla.: Governor Signs Limited Marijuana Law

By Rita Zeidner Jul 22, 2014

Florida is going to pot.

That would be an apt description for state a state where pro-marijuana policies are springing up like, well, like weeds.

In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed two measures legalizing the use of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana to treat conditions such as epilepsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and cancer.

He signed Senate Bill 1030, which approves the medication, and SB 1700, which protects the identities of the patients who use it.

In November, Florida voters will weigh in on Amendment 2, a much broader medical marijuana referendum that would legalize marijuana for a range of conditions. If 60 percent of Florida voters approve Amendment 2, it would allow doctors to prescribe other forms of marijuana, including the kind that is smoked, to treat an even wider range of conditions.

The growing acceptance of medical marijuana around the country is complicating employer’s drug-free workplace programs and remains at odds with federal law prohibiting marijuana use for any reason.

The supreme courts in four states and one federal appeals court have said employers aren’t required to accommodate employees who are prescribed marijuana by a physician. But the marijuana lobby may be growing increasingly skilled at closing legal loopholes that infringe on the rights of marijuana smokers. A new law in Minnesota, for instance, prohibits employers from discriminating against medical marijuana users enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program — unless an employee was impaired by the drug while at work.

Some employers worry that the increasing liberal state laws may make it more difficult to find future workers who meet their organizations’ drug-testing criteria.

Companies with drug-testing policies that ban any use of marijuana by employees say pot smoking adds to health care costs, turnover, absenteeism, workplace performance problems and safety issues.

By the end of this year, more than half of states are expected to have made marijuana use legal in some form or fashion.

Washington state and Colorado have legalized pot for adult recreational purposes, with 14 others weighing that idea. The District of Columbia replaced the jail-time penalty for possessing small amounts with a fine.

Rita Zeidner is a freelance business writer and former senior writer for HR Magazine.

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